Tow truck drivers stage rally to remind public of importance of keeping emergency responders sage
Tow truck operators and other emergency services personnel across the province took an hour Wednesday evening to remind motorists to slow down and move over and to honour the life and legacy of Courtney Schaefer, and other drivers killed on the job.
Schaefer was a tow truck driver killed in a four-vehicle crash on Highway 22 about a year ago. His death prompted blue lights to be added on all towing vehicle, making Saskatchewan the first province to have two coloured lights for tow trucks.
According to John Medynski of Lakeland Towing, the rally could become an annual event.
“We just need to get people to start slowing down. We’re still seeing a lot of people going by at high speeds,” he said.
In Saskatchewan, it’s mandatory to slow to 60 km/h and move over into the vacant lane when passing an emergency vehicle, including a tow truck, with its lights activated. Despite a public awareness campaign and signage, tow truck operators say too many are still not heeding the regulation.
“Tonight, it’s a lot of trucks, a lot of lights,” Medynski said as cars slowly passed. But as a rule, they’re still not slowing down to where we’re safe.”
Medynski himself is lucky. He drives a heavy tractor that hauls more heavy towing jobs. Because of his vehicle’s size, people do slow down. But they don’t give the same respect to the smaller tow trucks.
Prince Albert MLA and minister responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave stressed the importance of slowing down to ensure drivers can pass emergency vehicles safely.
“There’s more work to be done,” he said.
‘People have to slow down when they’re passing tow trucks. People have to slow down when they’re passing police. One, its common courtesy, but it’s also the law. They’re out there helping people who have a flat tire, or who are broken down, and they shouldn’t be risking their lives. People should be far more cognizant of that. It takes you ten seconds, then you’re by and can speed up again.”
Medynski agrees that more has to be done to stress the importance of slowing down and moving over.
“If it’s icy, slow to even less than 60 km/h, because anything can happen, if you slide into us. If the driver is beside the truck, that’s not going to be very good.”
Medynski said that the blue lights have helped, especially when visibility isn’t good, such as during fog or a snowstorm. They penetrate into the mist much more than the amber.
Hargrave also touted the lights. While most drivers had them, he noticed some trucks without. He encouraged all tow truck drivers to install the blue lights onto their rigs.